Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Memoir of an Amazing Man

"Blessed" is the memoir of a truly remarkable person.  Burt Boyar has led an enviable life.  After serendipitously becoming close friends with Sammy Davis, Jr., Burt abandoned a successful career as a Broadway columnist to form a three-way collaboration with his wife, Jane, and the ground-breaking entertainer, the fruit of which was the autobiography of Sammy Davis, Jr.  Horror stories of five years of toil and more years of editorial battles sent chills through this writer's veins, but eventually, the result was a bestseller, "Yes, I Can".

Then a nine-month sojourn in the south of Spain to research a new book led the Boyars into the bizarre coincidence of having the daughter of the fascist dictator, Franco, for their landlady.  Spain captured their hearts, as it does to so many, and nine months turned into twenty-eight years, the product of which was a novel about Franco putting a stop to Hitler's designs on Spain and Gibraltar.  The source of the material for "Hitler Stopped by Franco" came from the extraordinary access that the Boyars had with the Franco family—talk about luck!

As an afterward, "Blessed" ends with a posthumous letter to Sammy in heaven wherein Burt details the frustrations he is experiencing in his attempt to turn "Yes, I Can" into a major motion picture.  Again my blood ran cold.

Memoirs seldom grab my interest, but "Blessed" tells a great story.  I had the enormous good fortune to meet Burt when he graciously received my wife and me in his West LA home.  Rarely have I had the opportunity to meet a person so full of wit and charm.  He shared anecdotes from his amazing life with us for a fascinating hour, at the end of which it wasn't Burt who rushed us to the door, like fools, we had to be elsewhere.  "Blessed" brims with joy, frustration, a little sadness, humility, warmth and all of the heavy hitters of the post-war era.  I got to meet Burt in the flesh.  Now, I invite everyone to meet him in "Blessed"

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